At the end of Akira Nakai's 2023 trip to the land down under, Australia's RWB family has grown to 15. With a backlog of orders over the past few years, Nakai-san would first head to Melbourne, then Perth, then finally Brisbane across three weeks to transform 7 Porsche 911s and give them a second life.
Restoration and paint specialists Polo Body Works would host the completion of RWB builds #9 and #11, and additionally, a meet and greet on the Sunday for Melbourne RWB fans to witness Nakai-san do what he does best. I don't think there is anyone else in the world who would have 50-60 people turn up to watch you work on a car.
Version 2 of the Southern Hemisphere's first RWB build, 'Southern Cross' would also be revealed, now sporting its smooth fender conversion and a ducktail rather than the tall spoiler seen previously on this 930 and many other RWB Porsches. There continues to be plenty of cool details on Australia's first RWB, including new Pegaroo Racing rear taillights, as the extra-long exhaust pipes give off some serious kaido-racer vibes.
RWB (Name TBA) - owned by Scott from Outlaw Garage - would be the first of Australia's new group of RWB Porsches to be completed. What started as a white 911 Targa from Dubai, has now evolved into this street monster, finished in Miami Blue thanks to Polo Body Works.
(Talk about name of car - TBA)...
Kitted out with a mad rear wing with Nakai-san's signature down the side, don't be afraid to look closer. Pegaroo Racing rear taillights are featured again, in addition to Pegaroo side mirrors, both designed by Chern Wong, owner of RWB Southern Cross. The electronic wiring has been completed by Phatt Audio Concepts - who are right around the corner from Polo Body Works - as the suspension has been left to TruTrack Suspension to make sure the RWB G1 forged 5-Spoke wheels fit among the wider fenders and the car sits low. It most certainly has some presence on the road.
Fukuen, Australia's 9th RWB Porsche would be the first 997 model of 911 to be given the Rough World treatment by Nakai-san in Australia. I think many people are included when I say this, but watching an RWB build take shape in the hands of Nakai-san would be a dream experience for many. So, when you do in fact get the chance to witness it, well, you can't quite believe it.
RWB Fukuen's owner felt the same, and was quite overwhelmed that after 4 years, his 997 Porsche was finally taking shape, turning into the exact picture in his head. He is very selfless, wanting to keep quite private, so I am very thankful that he has allowed me (a complete stranger) to interview him and share what this build means to him. He wishes to stay anonymous, so we shall call him D.
D's first encounter with RWB - although he didn't know it at the time - was, the AE86 and S15, both worked on by Akira Nakai. The matte black finish on this pair became an inspiration for one of D's own builds. When Southern Cross was being built, he first helped Chern with cutting up stickers for the brake calipers, which would lead to D following the build closer.
I remember back then I was like, I want to build one, one day."
Four years ago, D purchased the 997 Carrera you see before you, for the exact purpose of turning it into an RWB Porsche. In fact, he had ordered the widebody kit from Nakai-san before he started to look for a 997 to purchase.
It was at the stage that Nakai-san was doing the mock-up of the body kit, and Chern just out of nowhere sent me a message saying, 'look what's happening'. Then I was like 'I'm keen, let's see what the progress look like', and then few more weeks later I got another update from Chern, and I was like, 'This is pretty much what I want', and I say 'Chern, I want to do it'."
Because Nakai-san is just one man putting these widebody conversions together, D wanted to complete the prior work on the car by himself. Inside the 997, are now Recaro seats and a steering wheel from a later model Porsche, as D has also retrimmed the interior panels. In addition to the other upgrades around the car, the most notable change is the air bag suspension. The paint is Midnight Purple III and was chosen by D's wife and left in the hands of Vito from Polo Body Works to complete, making the Porsche look absolutely awesome at every angle the light touches.
I never thought I would have a car in Midnight Purple, and widebody"
Now it was all ready for Nakai-san to work his magic. Although he calls it 'Rough', his eye for detail and measurement is what is most impressive. Barely using any measuring tools, he lines everything up with tape before cutting, drilling and finishing off the widened overfenders with silicone trim, cleaning up the silicone with a single smear of his finger. It is very clear that he has his own processes and tricks, yet stays incredibly focused throughout his work. That is one of the reasons these RWB Porsches are special, because Nakai-sans techniques are so different, yet the end result is always a work of art.
I'm still sinking in the moment, enjoying it. It's surreal, unreal, like I honestly have no words. The attention to detail he puts in[to] the work, just amazing! His requirement, his standard is so different... He would literally spend an extra 20 minutes to get a full millimeter out of the fitment."
One of the first things Nakai-san worked on after cutting the first fender was the fuel flap, making sure it blended into the bolt on fender, even making a little stand for it to sit on when filling up. Even after RWB Fukuen was officially complete, wearing the RAUH-WELT banner across the windscreen, Nakai-san was still spending time making sure the fuel flap was perfect.
With widened fenders and fitment, the factory washer bottle would also have to be removed. Rather than make D go without one however, Nakai-san cut the water reservoir into a smaller size for it to fit back inside the car.
At the time I interviewed D, a name hadn't been given to his 997. Later, Nakai-san would name Australia's first 997 as RWB Fukuen. Fukuen being the Japanese word for 'Reunion', a very appropriate title, summing up what this car means to D and his family.
[Nakai-san] did ask me about any idea, or kind of name or category that I want... I [went] through a lot with this build. I sort of gave him the idea that, something around second life, second chance, a rebirth."
Rauh-Welt Begriff is more than just cut up Porsches, and even more than pieces of art. So many people come to witness Nakai-san give a Porsche a second life, as he gives so much joy and wonderment to enthusiasts young and old. These cars aren't about making some bold statement, they bring people together and remind us to enjoy true car culture; the importance of the journey of modifying cars and celebrating them among like-minded people.
Every car has a story and a community around it. Especially if it's Rauh-Welt Begriff.
Cutting Room Floor
Purchasing your first car is a significant moment, particularly for a car enthusiast. Car enthusiasts usually have an interesting car as their first, a car that is not your ordinary machine simply designed to drive from Point A to Point B, but also has a bit of character. My first car however, - a 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage - is not that. It is built to a price, and is simply designed as a cheap, reliable and efficient mode of transport. Not very interesting then, hardly worthy of an article and some fancy photos dedicated to it. Fortunately, I'm a car enthusiast, cars excite me, driving anything is something I find enjoyable. And because this is my first car, I look at it, in a sense, through some rose-tinted glasses.
Let's have a look at the basics then. Powered by a 1.2 litre 3 cylinder (that's almost half a 1JZ if you think hard enough), it makes 72 horsepower and goes from 0-100kmh in approximately 12 seconds. So, it's slow and puny, but because it weighs only 920kgs, it handles very well, and it is very easy to drive it on the limit, without being scared out of your wits. It's like what motoring journalist James May says, "It's not about how much power you have, it's about how much power you can use", and in the Mitsubishi Mirage, you can use all of it, whenever you want. Thus, despite its tiny engine, the lightness and petiteness of the Mirage paired with its skinny tyres, makes it quite an enjoyable car to drive. I will say this though, I sure am glad I bought one with a manual gearbox, otherwise I doubt I would be calling it fun.
Inside though, you are reminded that it is meant to be a cheap car. Bad plastics, bolts not covered and the most annoying parcel shelf to be fitted to any car. These aren't issues really, unless you're Doug Demuro, however I will say the heating leaves something to be desired. The stereo has Bluetooth, USB, AUX and a CD player, and includes an easy-to-use hands-free system, allowing you know its limits (this is 2014 remember), so plenty of options in that area. However, the worst part is the lack of insulation. Although it is only a 1.2 litre engine, it is quite a loud powerplant, especially in the cockpit, and despite the very skinny tyres, the noise from the road can become quite loud and therefore annoying. Add torrential rain and you'll have a hard time not just hearing the music coming from the four speakers, but anything at all as your ears will be protesting at the droning noise.
But the positives certainly outweigh the stupid parcel shelf held up by a single piece of string and the chance of becoming deaf whilst driving in torrential rain and listening to 'A Perfect Circle' simultaneously. Put the rear seats down and I have plenty of room for all my camera gear. Its small 35 litre fuel tank makes it cheap to refuel, and its 3-cylinder engine just barely sips any fuel, meaning it will be quite economical when I travel to racetracks across Victoria and even interstate. Also, this will be the fourth Mitsubishi to be owned in my family, and each of them have been solid long-lasting cars. If history tells me anything, the Mirage should be no different.
The Mitsubishi Mirage then is a very simple car, nothing special, but it serves its purpose extremely well, and I think in a uniquely fun way. In a way a car like this is a perfect first car. It's safe, economical, fun to drive yet sets the bar low for whatever your next car purchase will be.
And well... it's mine, so I'm obviously going to be a bit biased. Everybody remembers there first car in a positive way whether it was something special or a complete rust bucket. That's because it gives you that freedom, and ultimately is a major piece of the puzzle in enjoying and experiencing new opportunities, that more often than not, shape your future. Doug Demuro calls this the worst new car you can buy, and I agree with him with a few things (and disagree with others since my ES spec has quite a few more options than the one he reviewed). This is a car you have to look at through rose-tinted glasses, whether you are renting it for a weekend or experience your newfound four-wheeled freedom in it.
What you see before you is something I built. Although in car culture terms, I use the term 'built' loosely, because I haven't really done much different to how it was when I got it. This lawnmower (it isn't even a real Honda by the way) is still unreliable, unclean, and I doubt makes any more horsepower than it did prior to when I got my hands on it. This 'build' was simply for me to get a feel for working on engines and learning basic mechanical skills. Of course, I'm not the first one to go a bit overboard on a project surely?
To begin with, it didn't start, it had been left out in the rain by the previous owner and that's why he had old it for $30 on Gumtree. However, this turned out to be a quick fix of draining and replacing both the fuel and oil and removing the solids out of the fuel tank. I also cleaned the spark plug for good measure.
After taking the surrounding parts of the engine (carburetor, fuel tank, muffler, flywheel) off and putting it back together from there, I finally decided to completely take apart the engine.
It would take a lot, lot longer to get around to this than I planned, particularly with Year 12 studies getting in the way. But during this time, ideas began to circulate in my brain. Rather than just rebuilding the engine, I thought why don''t I restore it too! Then of course, if I was going to restore it I would need to give it an interesting paint job right? People call Honda Civic's lawnmowers right? Spoon Sports tunes Honda's don't they? You can see where I was going can't you.
Finally, in 2020, things managed to start getting done. I finished the paint and restoring the body, axles, handle bars and the rear flap to the best of my ability.
And finally, the engine was rebuilt (just remind me to check that it cranks over before I put the entire engine, carburetor and all back together will you).
So let's have a look at the finished product then shall we?
Baby Civic Type R
Project Spoon was finished off with stickers in reference to the Spoon Sports race cars. These Spoon race cars often have the number 95 and wear ADVAN tyres to grip the track.
My favourite part of Project Spoon has to be this velocity stack I made from bits of scrap metal that replaces the ugly and bulky airbox.
One extra change caused by this velocity stack was the breather chamber. The breather chamber is used for any pressurised air to escape from the engine. Originally, this pressurised air was directed back into the air box as a sort of recycling method, but now with the absence of the air box, the air just vents straight out of the engine.
Now, obviously if you were to compare Project Spoon with an actual Honda Civic Type R, the ACTUAL Civic is better in every way shape and form. However, like most lawnmowers, and unlike a Civic Type R, Project Spoon has easily adjustable suspension thanks to the use of a single lever arm. I can easily go from riding over big fallen branches to full on StanceNation slammed style. Forget Air Lift Performance, height adjustment lever performance is where it's at!
Overall, I'm happy with how Project Spoon turned out. It is unique and although it isn't perfect it taught me a lot of basic skills that I wouldn't have known otherwise by just reading stuff online. I'd urge anyone to try working on a 4-stroke lawn mower to start off if they don't have access to working on a car. These engines can be fiddly at times (read: most of the time), but it is a very cheap way to learn some basic mechanics.
There are some cars that have that special and impressive manner about them. Le Mans racers, million dollar supercars and show cars with every modification you could think of are just a few examples of builds with presence. Danny and Dani's 1954 Chevy Truck is also a build with this special gift. Sitting low on a combination of 15 inch steel wheels and whitewalls, it's a car that grabs your attention with it's stance, looks and countless details.
Whilst on a trip to the U.S, Danny found this particular Chevy at Noble Fabrication in Ventura California. Danny asked immediately if the truck was for sale. The answer was no, but if a certain price was met, then it was his. Well, I think you can guess what happened next. A deal was agreed on and in February 2011 the truck arrived in Australia.
The '54 Chevy was restored by Matt at Noble Fabrication. The original 235 inline six blue flame motor still sits in the engine bay but has been blueprinted and balanced and a few additional horns. The engine has been matched to a 4-speed Muncie gearbox with a Hurst shifter.
Inside the cabin, the interior has stayed fairly stock, with the original gauges and bench seat but with a painted dashboard by TJ Guzzardi. Standing on the dashboard is also a custom made metal-flake Mary of Guadalupe dashboard statue from the U.S.A, molded by Charlie which Dani sells (exclusively in Australia) on her instagram page.
The paint is a satin finish of Atomic Orange, with a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe adorned on the roof, done by Mat Egan
To get the truck sitting pretty, the suspension consists of a dropped front I-beam underneath the front leaf springs and rubber bushings. The rear end includes mono leaf suspension and pump up air shockers. However, the chassis has also been C-notched for future bagging.
The family takes this Chevrolet everywhere, from car shows to even a trip to Sydney. It gets decked out in Christmas lights during Christmas and grabs people attention wherever it goes. Even during the photo shoot, people asked about the truck, including a particular couple who left with a smile on their faces and miraculous medals in their hands. It is a car not only used to create a lifetime full of memories, but to meet new people.
There would be no doubt either, that Mother Mary comes along for the journey.